There have been countless reports of how the tech industry is such a sausage party, what with men far outnumbering women, even in some of the world’s biggest companies. For instance, only 20 percent of software developers are female, a shockingly low figure, considering that tech companies have been launching initiatives to open up more opportunities for the distaff side. A new, notably gender-blind study backs up these initiatives, as its analysis of GitHub data suggests women may be better coders than men.
The researchers looked at three million pull requests, or suggested code contributions, on GitHub, and took some theoretical considerations into account before coming up with their findings. “We hypothesized that pull requests made by women are less likely to be accepted than those made by men,” the researchers wrote in a press release.
Surprisingly, the researchers discovered that female coders had a higher rate of acceptance at 78.6 percent. Men, on the other hand, were a full four percentage points behind at 74.6 percent.
Still, we have to go back to the operative word when referring to the study – gender-blind. The researchers also found that when female coders are clearly identified as women, the acceptance rate goes down considerably, allowing men to have a much higher acceptance rate if gender is taken into account. GitHub’s platform doesn’t require users to enter their gender, but some have viewable profile pictures that make it clear whether people are dealing with male or female members; as such, the researchers didn’t include coders whose gender was unidentifiable in their study.
“There’s a strong belief among developers in open source that the process is a pure meritocracy,” said study co-author Emerson Murphy-Hill of North Carolina State University. “This research casts doubt on that belief.” He added that if women are excluded from the software space, the broader industry is “missing an opportunity” in the process.